Published: June 30, 2005

Updated: Piper dies after band practice fight

James Mearing of Edinburgh, a piper with the Grade 4 71st Royal Engineers Territorial Army Pipe Band of Edinburgh, died after a fight with a fellow bandsman at practice. Mearing died on June 3 after three days in hospital after going in to a coma.

Keith Drysdale of Edinburgh has been charged with murder but, according to a spokesperson with the Lothian & Borders Police force, is out on bail and will appear in court in the near future.

According to the source, “It appears that the assault was quite vicious, hence the murder charge. However, being bailed to appear is quite unusual on such a serious charge.”

Depending on the post-mortem and medical evidence, the charge could be changed to culpiple homicide.

“It was a spillover from [the Bathgate Highland Games] where the band had a bad run. It obviously continued onto the band practice on the Tuesday and the finger-pointing resulted in a punch-up. Unfortunately for the accused, [Mearing] did indeed have a heart condition and [died] a couple of days later,” the Lothian & Borders Police source added.

The two pipers are not full-time soldiers.

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